Prior to the stay-at-home order that was announced as a result of COVID-19, my daily life involved a decent amount of physical activity that did not include planned workouts. One of the main aspects of living in a city that I love is being close enough to places so that walking is a possible means of commuting. Where I grew up in Connecticut, it was more typical to drive from place to place given that things are more spread apart in the suburbs. However, I often saw my neighbors walking around the block and even to the nearest grocery store. My parents have always promoted physical activity, which allowed me to learn at a young age that movement usually makes me feel better.
Unfortunately, times have drastically changed over the past month within the United States and throughout the world. City streets are nearly empty aside from essential workers and individuals rushing to get their groceries before they run out. Going outside has become a luxury, especially in places that are highly populated (like DC, of course!). This societal shift has made it much more difficult to be physically active just by going about your day and not having to worry about engaging in at-home workouts (one can only do so many of those before they get old) just to feel like you're moving. I find myself feeling super lethargic at times, especially because this has been a large transition that happened very fast. During the first half of my semester, I walked to the metro to get to work and then back home, I engaged in physical labor as part of my job, and I taught 2-3 workout classes per week. This does not even include the 3 hours of Ballet class and 10 hours of additional rehearsals I typically had each week. Needless to say, I was quite active without even needing to hit the gym (although I managed to do that some days). I would be lying if I said this idle time is causing me a significant amount of anxiety because I really do love being able to move a lot throughout my days. But the current situation cannot be changed, and I have been trying to make the best of it. So without further ado, here are some things I have been doing to keep myself active both physically and mentally while in a self-quarantine:
Creating my own body-weight workouts - you do not need to have a background in fitness in order to do this! It's a great way to get creative and find exercises that you enjoy.
Exploring different types of workouts - there are TONS of free home workouts that can be followed (and no one will judge if you stop halfway through)
Doing laps around my apartment - I am grateful to live in a pretty open space (gotta love the studio life), and I find myself just walking around while watching TV, talking on the phone, or taking a break during my online classes
Getting friends/family involved - sometimes I just don't have the motivation to exercise on my own and need someone to help push me (shoutout to Zoom and FaceTime for making virtual group workouts a thing)
Listening to my body and not forcing it to work - this might be the one time in a while that I can rest and not worry about neglecting other responsibilities... I am taking advantage
I realize that not everyone has internal motivation to stay active and that is okay! But I really do believe that moving (again, this does not have to be intense exercise) helps to clear the mind and provides a burst of energy during periods of sluggishness. Some tips I have for incorporating a bit of activity into your life without doing anything too drastic are as follows:
Take the stairs instead of the elevator once in a while (not only will you get moving, but you won't have to worry about being less than 6ft away from people)
Try gentle stretching (this is especially beneficial for those who sit at a desk often)
Don't be afraid to ask others what types of workouts they like to do; you might find something you would not have thought of yourself
Try to create positive associations (think of exercise as something that gives you the energy to make it through a stressful day)
Don't focus on amount or intensity to start, just do what feels good (and is safe!)
Pups can be involved too :)
At the end of the day, not doing a workout won't make a major difference in the long run. It is more about creating habits that can easily be incorporated into your current lifestyle and figuring out why YOU (not anyone else) want to stay active. And for those of you who are concerned about losing your gains or getting completely out of shape, know that there are measures you can take to prevent this. But also remember that right now, safety should be the #1 priority, and if that means skipping a few days of exercise, it is fully okay and does not mean your are lazy!
Sarah is a senior at George Washington University studying Exercise Science with minors in Dance and Psychology. If not studying, you can find her teaching fitness classes, working as a Physical Therapy Tech, or milling about the GW campus (pre-COVID19 of course).